The Role Genetics Plays in Your Smile

A multigenerational family that shares genetics smiles while embracing on a couch

Our genes have a lot to do with our health. They can determine so many things, from our hair color and height, to our susceptibility to certain diseases, and to a certain extent, the health and appearance of our smile. In this blog post, we’ll explore how your genetics can affect your smile.

Smile Appearance

One aspect of your smile often impacted by genetics is its appearance. For example, you can inherit a certain color of teeth, crooked teeth, or a misaligned jaw. Fortunately, many discoloration issues can be corrected with professional teeth whitening. Additionally, malocclusion, crowding, overbites, and gaps can all be a product of genetics and are remedied only by professionally applied orthodontics.

Oral Cancer Risk

As with many cancers, your risk for oral cancer is often higher if someone in your family has had it. This does not mean that only people with a genetic link are at risk, though. There are a variety of other risk factors, such as diet, tobacco and alcohol use, and others.

Gum Disease & Tooth Decay

Preliminary research suggests that cavities and gingivitis may also be linked to your genes, with certain genes making you more susceptible to these oral issues. However, a bad luck of the draw in the genetics department doesn’t mean that you are doomed to suffer from these tooth-wreckers. Rather than lay the blame for decay and gum inflammation on bad genes and call it a day, be proactive. For those that may be predisposed to gum disease and cavities, it’s best to be diligent about your oral care. Brush and floss daily, limit your consumption of sugary foods and beverages, drink plenty of water, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, and come visit Heritage Dental every six months.

Top Quality Dental Care at Heritage Dental

Good genes or bad, we can all do better at caring for the health of our teeth and gums. Our friendly team is here to help you establish and maintain healthy oral care habits. If it’s been a while since your last checkup, contact us so we can examine your mouth for potential issues, like cavities, gum disease, and misalignment. We look forward to seeing you soon!

What Are the Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening?

Blonde woman in a white blouse smiles after receiving professional teeth whitening in Katy, TX at Heritage Dental

If you could have the smile of your dreams, what would it look like? A bright, white smile can boost your confidence and make you look years younger. Many of our patients at Heritage Dental tell us they’re embarrassed about stains or a yellowish tint to their teeth, which is why we’re proud to offer professional teeth whitening services at our Katy dental office.

You Don’t Need to Wait Long for a Whiter Smile

Don’t waste another day hiding your smile because you don’t like the appearance of your teeth. Dr. Nguyen uses the KöR® Whitening Deep Bleaching™ system to whiten your teeth by 16 shades or more in as little as two weeks. Other systems may require months of use before you see any results.

Get the Perfect Fit

Unlike whitening products you can buy at the drugstore, the KöR method uses trays that are custom-created to fit your teeth. This limits the chance of your saliva diluting the bleaching gel and makes the treatment more effective.

Avoid Tooth Sensitivity

Because our KöR bleaching treatment is professionally administered, much of the tooth sensitivity associated with store-bought whitening treatments is avoided. In fact, our patients who use KöR whitening say they experience little to no sensitivity during treatment. It is the gentlest whitening system available!

Achieve Beautiful Teeth Inside & Out at Heritage Dental!

While a whitening treatment you buy at the drugstore or grocery store may temporarily whiten the outer layer of your teeth, the benefit of the KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching system is that it safely, quickly, and effectively whitens your teeth, inside and out. Oxygen in the whitening gel absorbs deep into your tooth to dissolve and remove stain molecules. This results in a deeper, more lasting treatment that will leave you feeling confident to show off your new smile in all its glory! To ask our team any questions about improving the look of your smile or to schedule a cosmetic dentistry consultation, contact our office today.

Common Dental Crown Problems

Dark-haired man wearing a gray shirt sits by a white pillar and looks concerned about common dental crown problems

After getting a crown, the goal is that your tooth is completely repaired and all will be well, right? But the dental crown process is just the beginning of restoring your tooth! It’s important to keep your crown clean and to monitor it for any abnormal changes or discomfort. In this article, we’ll give an overview of common dental crown problems to watch out for.

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay doesn’t damage the crown itself since it is made of artificial material. However, decay can erode the tooth beneath it and compromise the anchoring of the dental crown. For the decay to be cleaned out, the crown must be removed. To avoid this, brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoridated toothpaste. Additionally, floss at least once a day and keep up with your regular dental cleanings.

2. Sensitivity

Some people with crowns suffer from discomfort or sensitive teeth when they consume very hot or cold foods or beverages. If this is true for you, you should have it examined as soon as possible. It’s possible the crown has come loose and is not completely covering your tooth. Until it can be looked at, try brushing with an anti-sensitivity toothpaste to reduce your feeling of sensitivity.

3. Pain

After getting a crown, your gums may be a little sore as the crown settles. This swelling is temporary and should resolve soon. But if you experience intense pain or discomfort, especially if it lasts for several days or longer than a week, let us know. The biting surface of your crown may need to be adjusted, you may need a mouthguard for undiagnosed teeth grinding, or you may need root canal therapy.

4. Dark Lines

Dark lines may show up on porcelain crowns infused with metal. Some may find this aesthetically unappealing, but it’s nothing to worry about. The darkness is simply the crown’s metal. However, if you want, it can be replaced with an all-ceramic or all-porcelain crown.

Consult with Our Expert Team

If you are experiencing any crown-related problems, give us a call here at Heritage Dental to set up an appointment with Dr. Nguyen!

Are Dental Procedures Tax Deductible?

A pink piggy bank holds a one dollar bill on a brown counter against a white wall

It’s tax time! As you look back on your yearly expenses, be sure to consider whether you can deduct any dental procedures and expenses for 2018. Here is a brief and helpful guide according to Internal Revenue Service’s policies:

How to Deduct Dental Procedures

Although the IRS recognizes medical and dental expenses as tax deductible, there are a few conditions:

1. You must be eligible to file using an itemized tax form.

This is the only way to deduct medical and dental expenses.

2. You may only deduct expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income annually.

This means that if you made $100,000 in 2018, the eligible amount you can deduct for medical and dental expenses must exceed $7,500. Any amount under that does not apply.

3. The expenses incurred must be from you, your spouse, or your dependents.

Anyone who does not fit this description cannot be counted toward itemized deductions for medical and dental expenses.

4. Prescription medications related to dental treatment are deductible.

The medications must have been prescribed for dental purposes.

5. Only necessary dental and medical procedures are considered tax deductible.

This includes cleanings, fillings, X-rays, extractions, other surgeries, and braces. It does not include cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.

6. Only unreimbursed expenses are considered deductible.

This means that if your dental insurance company or any third party covered or partially covered any dental expenses, only the out-of-pocket cost to you is considered deductible. And remember, that amount must exceed 7.5% of your AGI.

Consult with Our Team!

Please call our office if you have any questions about treatments or services you had done in 2018. We are happy to help so that you can file your expenses accurately. Or if it’s time for your biannual checkup and cleaning, schedule your next appointment today.

Fun Holiday Dental Related Gifts People Will Love

Closeup of a cluster of holiday gifts wrapped in red, brown, and white paper for Christmas

Looking for some fun holiday dental related gifts that people will love to find wrapped up or in their stocking? Here are some of our favorite gift ideas:

1. Denture Ice Cube Trays

Denture ice cube trays are for making ice cubes that are shaped like dentures! This hilarious gift is perfect for the jokester on your list. These are also a perfect gag gift for someone who hit a big milestone birthday and may be feeling a little over the hill. You’ve probably seen these in novelty shops, but you can also buy them online or in big box stores.

2. Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes are a great way to show someone that you care about their oral health! Make sure to select one with a built-in two minute timer and pressure sensor. You could even personalize the electric toothbrush by getting it in the recipient’s favorite color. Throwing in a few extra replacement brush heads will also ensure the recipient has a stock of fresh brush heads every 3 months for optimal oral health.

3. Novelty Toothpaste

From pickle to cupcake, bacon to ginger mint, there are a number of fun novelty toothpaste flavors. Select a special flavor for each person on your list–whether it’s their favorite food or their least favorite. You can find these wacky toothpastes online or in specialty stores.

4. Travel Essentials & Toothbrush Cover

For the globetrotters, a gift of travel-size dental items can save them valuable space in their suitcase. Moreover, to make traveling with their toothbrush more fun, find a cool toothbrush head cover so they can protect their toothbrush from germs in an enjoyable way. There are abundant options for toothbrush head covers, including bright colors, animals like owls and unicorns, emoji smiley faces, and even cartoon characters.

5. Toothbrush with a Favorite Character

For the little ones on your list, a simple dental-related gift idea is a toothbrush with their favorite character on it. From princesses to cars, Barbies to Spongebob, there are toothbrushes out there with every character under the sun and under the sea. You can find them at your local drugstore or even online. It’s sure to put a smile on your child’s face.

Happy Holidays From Heritage Dental!

We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday. Contact us for additional ways to help your loved ones have superb oral health.

Are Floss Picks Better Than String Floss?

A blue container of floss with a white tooth icon on it and a blue string of floss coming out

Flossing daily is a necessary step in effectively keeping your teeth clean and strong. It removes particles of food that get caught in between teeth. While this might not sound harmful, bacteria feed off of these leftovers, accumulate into a sticky film called plaque, and produce enamel-damaging acids that lead to decay and sensitive teeth. Plaque also irritates and inflames gums, causing gum disease. This is why we stress the importance of cleaning in between teeth. Many of our patients have asked if it’s OK to use a floss pick instead of string floss. Read on to learn the difference between these two flossing products so you can make a decision about which one is best for your smile!

String Floss

Flossing with traditional dental floss is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. You can buy this product unwaxed or waxed in a variety of flavors. It is usually sold in a plastic container with a flip lid, which makes it easier to distribute. For best use, pull out about 18 inches of string, wind it around your middle fingers, and glide a new part of the floss in between each pair of teeth. Gently scrape each tooth’s surface one by one to remove food particles and debris. We recommend flossing before brushing if possible, so that you can then sweep away all particles that may have become loose.

Floss Picks

Floss picks, most commonly in an “F” shape, have a plastic handle and about an inch of string between two rods. The problem with picks is that because they contain far less string, you are essentially cleaning different teeth with the same bit of string over and over again. This redistributes the bacteria from in between teeth, rather than just transferring it completely to the floss. For this reason, we don’t feel that floss picks are an adequate substitute for string floss. However, they are a quick solution for on-the-go flossing.

So Which Is Better?

We want you to do your best to make sure you’re cleaning in between your teeth every day. Although we recommend traditional string floss as your go-to for daily oral hygiene, floss picks can be handy for travel or on-the-go moments. But we’d rather you clean your teeth with picks than not floss at all!

We Look Forward to Seeing Your Smile!

Remember that we are here to help you have outstanding oral health. Please let us know if you have any questions about which dental products are best for your unique smile. And if you’re ready to schedule an appointment for your next cleaning, contact our team today.

Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Teeth?

Closeup of a blonde woman blowing a pink sugar-free gum bubble against a blue background

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), chewing gum has been around since ancient times, when northern Europeans used to chew a gum-like substance derived from birch bark tar! The ancient Greeks chewed resin from the bark of the mastic tree. American Indians and then New England settlers chomped on resin from a spruce tree. Today, the gum we chew is made of a mix of synthetic materials, and is no doubt a lot tastier than the tree resin chewed centuries ago. In an array of yummy flavors from sweet mint to piña colada to cinnamon, it couldn’t possibly be good for your teeth–or could it?

What Can Sugar-Free Chewing Gum Do for Teeth?

Any time you chew, you prompt your mouth to produce more saliva. Saliva is primarily water, but also includes some crucial electrolytes, enzymes, and antibacterial elements. That saliva flow serves to rinse out your mouth and neutralize some of the plaque acids that hang around in there. Those acids are produced when bacteria break down food in the mouth. If left alone, plaque and acids go on to cause enamel erosion and tooth decay. Because acidic foods and drinks temporarily soften your enamel, it is recommended you wait at least 30-60 minutes after a meal before brushing your teeth; instead, chew sugar-free chewing gum for 20 minutes after each meal in order to maximize its effectiveness and protection against enamel damage!

Is All Gum Healthy for Teeth?

Not all chewing gum is created equal. A sugary chewing gum is just as bad as candy, especially due to its sticky texture, and will increase your risk for tooth decay. Stick with chewing only the sugar-free variety of gum! When in doubt, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which a number of brands have earned for their scientifically proven safety and effectiveness.

Gum Is Never a Substitute for Proper Preventive Oral Care

Chewing sugar-free gum can certainly contribute to a healthy mouth, and it’s a fantastic alternative to sugary treats like candy, chips, and soda. However, chewing gum is no substitute for daily brushing and flossing. Remember to drink plenty of water, brush twice a day for two minutes each time, floss at least once daily, and keep up your biannual dental cleanings and checkups here at Heritage Dental. Additionally, we do not recommend chewing gum, even sugar-free gum, if it causes your jaw to hurt, click, or pop. At your next appointment, notify our expert team if you are experiencing any jaw pain or dysfunction. Schedule a checkup today!

What Should You Do in a Dental Emergency?

Headshot drawing of a dark-haired man in a teal suiteclutching his forehead in panic due to a dental emergency

No matter how great you are at maintaining your oral health, certain dental emergencies can happen at almost any time. If you do experience a dental emergency, remember to stay calm and to call our office ASAP. Don’t panic! If you’re not sure what constitutes a dental emergency, or you are uncertain about how to best handle one until emergency dental care can be received, check out our tips below!

1. Toothache or Abscess

A toothache can indicate a number of different things, including something as minor as a popcorn kernel lodged between your teeth. To remove any rogue food particles, try flossing and rinsing your mouth a few times with warm salt water. Or your tooth may be sensitive and painful when exposed to extreme temperatures or pressure due to receding gums or thinned enamel caused by vigorous brushing or teeth grinding. Ask us for a refresher on proper brushing technique or about a nightguard to protect your mouth during sleep. A toothache can also be a sign of something more serious, such as an untreated cavity or a tooth infection. Advanced decay and infections will need to be treated with root canal therapy so it’s critical to come see us before your tooth is damaged beyond saving. A dental abscess, caused by a bacterial infection, requires treatment ASAP before the infection spreads. There are three kinds of abscess: periodontal, gingival and periapical. If you have an abscess, you may feel pain, have a bad taste in your mouth, and develop fatigue and/or a fever. If you have trouble breathing or swallowing, go to the nearest emergency room!

2. Chipped or Cracked Tooth

A chipped tooth is usually just a cosmetic issue that can later be repaired with a dental crown or dental veneer. However, a broken or cracked tooth can allow bacteria to access and damage the sterile soft tissue inside your tooth, called the pulp. Even if a broken or cracked tooth isn’t yet giving you pain, come see us so we can seal up your tooth before decay and infection have a chance to set in.

3. Knocked-Out Tooth

A knocked-out tooth can usually be salvaged if it is kept moist and reinserted within the hour of losing it. First, handle your tooth only by it’s crown (chewing surface) and gently wash it off with milk or water. Then, if you feel comfortable doing so, try to re-implant the tooth yourself with proper positioning. If you hold it in place and there is no pain, it may just take and successfully re-implant. If you don’t feel comfortable re-inserting it, transport your tooth in a container of milk on your way to our office.

Call Us at (832) 437–5895!

Be sure to ask us any additional questions you have about how to handle a dental emergency. Heritage Dental delivers prompt emergency care so please call us as soon as urgent dental problems develop.

How Dental Health Affects Your Complexion

Brunette woman dabs her mouth with a tissue and considers her complexion as she looks into a small hand mirror

Your face is often the first thing that people notice about you. Everyone wants a clean, bright smile and complexion because they usually indicate good health. But did you know that your oral health can actually affect your complexion? It’s important to keep your mouth healthy and clean for clear skin. Read on to learn more!

Oral Bacteria vs. Skin

If not properly cleaned and washed away through daily at-home dental hygiene, your oral bacteria can quickly multiply and spread into your bloodstream. This can cause many potentially harmful health problems, including problems with our complexion.

It is believed that the bacteria linking oral health and acne is Propionibacterium. Propionibacterium is a gram-positive, anaerobic, rod-shaped genus of bacteria that can be found in both acne and various parts of the mouth. If Propionibacterium multiplies on your teeth and under the gumline, it can enter the bloodstream and negatively affect your skin. There have been several cases of patients with persistent acne that did not respond well to any medications until their dental issues were treated. Not everyone’s skin problems will be explained by poor oral health, but it is something to consider if you struggle with stubborn breakouts.

6 Ways to Protect Your Skin

One of the best ways to prevent Propionibacterium from negatively affecting the health of your skin is to maintain a superb oral care routine. Here are some dental tips to help prevent harmful bacteria in your mouth from entering your bloodstream:

1. Eat a well balanced diet. Try to avoid consuming too many foods and beverages that are high in acid and/or sugar.

2. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time using a fluoridated toothpaste.

3. Floss with traditional string floss or use a water flosser every day.

4. Drink plenty of water.

5. Say “no” to illicit drugs and tobacco.

6. Schedule regular cleaning and exams at Heritage Dental.

Come Visit Heritage Dental!

If you have been dealing with some persistent complexion problems lately, consider making a dental appointment before you make a dermatologist appointment. Contact our Heritage Dental team to schedule your next cleaning and checkup.

Are You Afraid of the Dentist?

Blonde young woman wearing a black shirt and watch covers her face with her hands because she is afraid of the dentist

Dental anxiety is a serious condition that affects the vast majority of adult Americans. While some of us just may feel butterflies in our stomachs at the idea of visiting the dentist, others may avoid going to the dentist altogether out of complete fear. It’s impossible to maintain optimal oral health without seeing the dentist, so what can you do to make visits more bearable?

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sometimes it’s just not enough to use various calming techniques before visiting the dentist. Some of us don’t like the feeling of losing control, especially of our ability to talk. Others may recall a particularly painful experience at the dentist’s office that they will never forget about. Fortunately, with sedation dentistry, you’ll feel deeply relaxed so that no treatment will faze you. At Heritage Dental, we’re proud to offer three different types of sedation dentistry, all with their own unique benefits.

1. Nitrous Oxide

Also known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is a gas you inhale just before your treatment begins. Although you’ll be conscious during your procedure, you won’t feel a thing. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off quickly after treatment, so you won’t feel groggy after your procedure.

2. Oral Conscious Sedation

Oral conscious sedation helps you feel sleepy and at ease during your procedure. Unlike nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation is delivered through a prescription pill, which you will take an hour or so before your treatment. It does take a while for the effects of the medicine to wear off, so be sure to arrange a ride home for when you’re out of treatment.

3. The Wand

Not many people have heard of The Wand because not many practices offer it yet! We’re lucky to have one of the newest products in dental technology here at Heritage Dental. The Wand is a computer-controlled injection device that can deliver a steady flow of anesthesia during your procedure, so you don’t have to be fearful of painful numbing shots leading up to your treatment.

Our Team Will Help You Remain Calm!

Don’t let dental anxiety prevent you from preserving your oral health. Dental sedation is just what you need to maintain a beautiful smile without having to get nervous about visiting the dentist. Let our experienced team at Heritage Dental help you feel at ease during your next visit. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.